I have faith in things. Though it explains so many mysteries, removes so many obstacles to understanding reality, I have faith that solipsism, the theory that only I exist and I imagine the rest of you, is not an accurate description of the world. I do not just doubt. I know in my heart solipsism is not the answer. I have faith.
The fundamental problem with debates between people with different perspectives is this: each person assumes as obvious their assumptions and axiomatic truths and each person views the opposition’s fundamentals as patently absurd. From this place, we argue the specifics. Is homosexuality wrong? Yes, because God says it is. God does say it is. True, He says other things that we don’t weight the same. We have come to know God pretty well. We have faith that He ranks deviant sexuality high up on his list of possible offenses. We know that homosexuality is deviant. It is obvious to anyone who owns a Bible.
I wish to disprove the silly Christian stance on homosexuality. What do I do? I challenge the idea that the way one chooses to express love or affection for another consenting entity cannot be wrong, as love is good and there is no harm. Unfortunately, I have already missed the point. My argument is very bad. Homosexuality is not wrong because it harms people, though we know it does, else why would God have forbade it? If I am to debate a Christian on this issue and he is telling me that homosexuality is wrong because God declared it to be, there is no point in arguing that it is OK for some other reason. If I argue that just because you think someone should die does not make him worthy of death and someone else says, he is a murderer and will murder again if we do not end his life, it makes no sense for me to say, but what about my argument? As he did not dispute my argument and I disagree with his, his argument is the topic that must be handled before progress can be made.
Homosexuality is wrong because God said it was wrong. That assertion must be handled before anything else I say matters.
The correct question I should be asking is why God said it was wrong. I want to argue that I lend no more credence to the word of God than I do to the grunts of a unicorn. How silly of me. We are discussing why God declares homosexuality to be wrong. If I change the subject to question the validity of God’s word, I dismiss the homosexuality topic entirely in favor of this more fundamental issue, and admit that discussing the specific topic of homosexuality with a Christian who believes it is wrong because God let him know, is pointless. It is OK to abandon the homosexuality discourse as currently unsolvable, but to do so without realizing I have done it, is not OK. Once we forget what we are talking about, I think it’s safe to say we no longer know what we are talking about.
If I wish to continue, I have two choices: I can argue my case from a Christian perspective or I can knowingly change the subject and address if the thing the Christian thinks God is telling him are God’s thoughts or someone else’s.. To support my position on this new topic, I can point to the large collection of serial killers who have responded to instructions they heard in God’s voice. I can list the myriad commands in the Christian Bible that contradict anything a Christian would stand for today.
In order to prove my point, I sometimes do this, for I am a fool. I home in on new targets, forgetting the original ones are still standing. To suddenly turn and attack God’s words is an inane approach, since the Bible does not stand or fall on its own integrity. It is supported by the faith the believer has in its reputed Author. I am injecting a reasonable argument where it doesn’t fit. Christians have heard it all before and their ministers have explained away the contradictions and inconsistencies with nonsensical explanations. They answer to the congregation’s satisfaction the problem of evil, how the Trinity works, and why Jesus had to die for our sins. The willingness to accept hollow explanations is inherent in the Christian’s faith: that is the genius of it.
I am so silly to try to challenge the Christian faith with reason. Faith lives in a different context. I am digging an ever deepening hole that juts well outside the Christian’s spiritual realm. The Christian explains to me that if I learn more, expose myself to God’s glory, I too can enjoy the benefits of accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. He is so silly to try to challenge my reason with his faith.
I see the Christian and the Atheist debating each other as a comic absurdity. It is like watching a debate between someone speaking Mandarin Chinese with someone speaking Farsi. Nowhere in that verbal combat does anyone resign and you never hear anyone say: “You make a good point, but … “ Faith and reason are two separate languages, each used in its own disciplines and using one to communicate with someone using the other, is goofy. Only a moderate Christian can reason with a fundamentalist Christian, because only he speaks in a dialect similar enough to make communication between their two peoples possible. Only an agnostic can offer words of wisdom to an atheist. The only way I could ever successfully debate a fundamentalist Christian is if I were to argue as I imagine a Christian would argue, from a Biblical perspective, which would be a hypocritical thing for a non-believer to do, without first disclosing his lack of faith. Such a confession would strip the argumentative infidel of any credibility in the eyes of his opponent. And even if I use this stratagem, I could not say anything that may undermine my Christian opponent’s faith in order to prove God’s tolerance for homosexuality. I would have to start somewhere else, someone that does not transcend his ability to agree.
When we debate a position with someone with whom we are fundamentally at odds, we strengthen our certainty, and theirs. The memory of when we expressed our basic assumptions so eloquently comes back to us in all its majesty. The ridiculous case our opponents made to support their unstable position also leaves an impression. As each side adds another victory to the debate, the monster that is our own cherished opinions grows stronger. As our certainty is reaffirmed, yet again, the dissonant rattle, that threatened our perception of self, silences. We assure ourselves that we are, as suspected, the intelligent ones with the answers.
We have mountains of belief underneath us, and those who disagree with our ideas tend to challenge the conclusions they find precariously balanced on the peak of it all. We use our fundamental assumptions that took years to cultivate and that are beyond reproach to attack their notions of homosexuality, a position we find at the very tip of their mountainous belief system; but they do not assume our assumptions; they know them to be false.
Whether it is a liberal debating a conservative or an Atheist debating a Christian, the process is the same: asinine. Everyone questions everyone else’s intelligence. They are talking gibberish. One speaks Mandarin and the other Farsi, and when the discussion ends, each claims victory in his native tongue.
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"The correct question I should be asking is why God said it was wrong."
Exactly. And, further, this is the question every Christian should be asking themselves. The rules aren't arbitrary, each one has a reason and a purpose. "Don't murder" and "don't steal" are fairly obvious. "Don't eat pork" has a good reason behind it: if you eat undercooked pork, you get sick and die.
The bit about blended fabrics sounds weird to a modern reader ... but remember, back in the day they didn't have treated fabrics. Modern fabrics are treated so that all the fibers shrink at the same rate. In olden times, if you wove a cloth of two different fibers, it'd be ruined the first time it got wet. The injunction against blended fabrics was an injunction against waste.
So, what was the original reason forbidding homosexuality? It goes against the command, "Be fruitful, and multiply."
There are seven billion of us. I think we can tick that one off as "mission accomplished."
It makes me want to learn more about quarks and dark matter.
If you read the article without clicking "more," you see what I saw when I read it and said: "Wow! I wish I had written that."
I don't consider atheists or agnostics "silly" or regard their viewpoint as in any way negative, but I do have that simple faith.
Many years ago an American shared the experience of flying with an Indian, the American describing soaring over the treetops.
The Indian listened then patiently explained "Men go under trees, not over them".
Each saw the other as childlike, and within their own view of the world each was right.
My faith may make me the under the tree guy in my dealings with fundamentalist homosexual hating war loving Christians, I consider them contrary and annoying.
My faith also might make me the under the tree guy in my dealings with atheists,with their logic telling me of soaring over the trees and my faith explaining one goes under trees, not over them.
Happy new year John and Burr.
God's word is absolute, but he gave each and every one of us a free will to exercise as we see fit. BUT - He also preached many times over, especially through His son, Jesus - to love thy neighbor and to put others before ourselves. He NEVER advised anyone to persecute or discriminate against gays, or to take it upon oneself to be His judge, jury, or prosecutor. Somehow, the rabidly anti-gay fundamentalists just don't get the message. I say, live and let live. There is far too much hatred in the world!
Then again, over the years of my experiences and research I have found that often times, reason only serves to strengthen my faith.
I am an engineer by education and occupation and a staunch believer in science. I am also an atheist that found God and converted to Catholicism years ago.
I find that rather than science and faith being contradictory towards each other, when looked at closely they support each other in a duality. Indeed God's universe is an incredibly ordered and mathematical one.
The reason that the men speaking Farsi and Mandarin cannot relate or understand each other is because neither cares enough to put forth the gargantuan effort needed to find common ground so that they can build a dual understanding, if not agreement, from that point going forward.
Lastly, I find myself in agreement with Mr. Jodell's statement and wish that more folks would live by such a code.
I definitely do not want to begin the second installation of our saga, but I would like to point out that intelligent scientific-minded Christians such as you, are exactly what Atheists need, if they want to win their iconoclastic war against religion in America.
Without men like you, the atheist would have nothing. Nothing!
I just know I am going to regret this, but my tongue was bleeding. I had to let go, if only briefly.
[For anyone who doesn't know, Paine and I already had the world's longest written debate about certain aspects of religion. He did very well for a wrong fellow].
That is a fascinating assertion, Myste, and one that I am tempted to spend the time addressing in rebuttal, if I were only motivated to do so at this moment.
Fear not though, my friend, as my Opus on God and Science being a duality rather than a dichtomy is forthcoming soon. Naysayers will be unable to compete with the searing logic of my arguments then... or so I pray!
I guess in the spirit of the Opus, I must combine logic with faith to establish my certainty of your logic's indestructibility.
On behalf of all agonistics and atheists in America, I would like to thank you for pursuing this. It just makes things a lot easier.
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